General Motors Company (GM) has announced that it has secured a new source of cost-competitive nickel and cobalt for its Ultium battery cells after making a strategic investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia.
Improving critical supply chain management
In a statement, GM explained that the nickel laterite ore is expected to be processed using a new and proprietary process that helps reduce waste with no requirement of a tailings dam.
"The collaboration with Queensland Pacific Metals will provide GM with a secure, cost-competitive and long-term supply of nickel and cobalt from a free-trade agreement partner to help support our fast-growing EV production needs," said Jeff Morrison, GM Vice President, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.
"Importantly, the agreement demonstrates our commitment to building strong supplier relationships and is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management."
The nickel and cobalt from Queensland Pacific Metals will help power a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, vans and luxury vehicles from GM, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Blazer EV and Chevrolet Equinox EV, Morrison added.
The details of the GM and Queensland Pacific Metals partnership
As part of the agreement, GM is expected to invest up to US$69 million in Queensland Pacific Metals for the development of its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project in Northern Australia, the statement continued.
The project aims to become a leading supplier of high-grade, advanced battery materials. The sustainable, high-purity battery materials refinery is being developed in response to the growing demand for battery materials for electric vehicles, particularly nickel and cobalt.
“We are absolutely delighted to collaborate with General Motors,” said Stephen Grocott, CEO, Queensland Pacific Metals. “GM’s strategic direction, company values and focus on sustainability in its pursuit of making electric vehicles for all is a perfect fit for Queensland Pacific Metals and our TECH Project.
“GM’s investment in our company and the associated offtake brings us one step closer towards construction of the TECH Project where we will one day aim to deliver the world’s cleanest produced nickel and cobalt. We thank GM for their belief in our TECH Project and look forward to becoming part of the GM sustainably sourced raw material supply chain.”
High-grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from nearby New Caledonia for processing at the TECH facility using a patented refining and recycling process called the DNi ProcessTM, which, according to Queensland Pacific Metals, utilises environmentally-conscious methods for extracting nickel, cobalt and other precious metals from the laterite.
Queensland Pacific Metals has obtained the rights to use the DNi Process™ from Altilium Group. Key features of the DNi Process™ include more than 98% nitric acid recycling, no tailings dam requirements and less waste than traditional extraction processes.
The TECH Project is expected to begin construction in 2023, the companies added.
"GM already has binding agreements securing all battery raw material supporting our goal of 1 million units of annual capacity in North America by the end of 2025," said Morrison. "This new collaboration builds on those commitments as we look to secure supply through the end of the decade, while also helping continue to expand the EV market,” he concluded.